News Briefs: April 12, 2012

Here's what we have our eye on today:

  • Federal investigators have extended a Jeep Wrangler probe to the 2007-09 and 2011-12 model years, The Detroit News reports. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened the investigation late last month to look into complaints of engine fires in the 2010 Wrangler and the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. An additional report of an engine fire in the Wrangler prompted NHTSA to investigate all years of the current-generation Wrangler, which has been on sale since September 2006.
  • Lamborghini will unveil an SUV concept at this month's Beijing Auto Show, German business daily Handelsblatt reports via Automotive News. China is an emerging market for super-luxury vehicles, and Lamborghini, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group, wants to expand its lineup beyond the Gallardo and Aventador to attract new customers, CEO Stephan Winkelmann told Handelsblatt. The Italian brand could launch a production SUV by 2017, marking its first SUV since the Humvee-like LM002 decades ago. It may share components with a forthcoming SUV from Bentley, another Volkswagen Group subsidiary.
  • GM said gases venting from an experimental battery pack at its Warren, Mich., technical center caused Wednesday morning's explosion — not components related to the Chevrolet Volt, according to The Detroit News. The explosion comes months after federal officials closed an investigation on the Volt for isolated fires. The explosion sent one employee to the hospital; a GM spokesman said the employee remained there overnight for observation.
  • The Detroit News reports the U.S. Treasury lowered its projection Wednesday on auto bailout losses from $85 billion in 2009 to $21.7 billion. That's down about $2 billion from earlier projections. The lower number is thanks in part to GM stock, which has risen 19% this year. Still, the automaker's stock remains down 27% from its IPO price in November 2010. The Treasury still owns 26.5% of GM, down from 61% originally, and The Detroit News says it's unlikely the government will sell its remaining GM shares until after November's elections. It stands in contrast to Chrysler, which the Treasury spent $12.5 billion bailing out and exited last year at a loss of $1.3 billion.
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